Louisville vs. North Carolina Complete Preview and Predictions

Jon Hancock@@JonKYSportscoSenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 08:  The Louisville Cardinals run to the field before the game against the Missouri State Bears at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The University of Louisville Cardinals come into this game ranked 19th in the AP Poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll with a record of 2-0. The North Carolina Tar Heels are 1-1 after losing to Wake Forest last week 28-27.

Last year UNC beat Louisville in Chapel Hill in a defensive battle, 14-7. The Cardinals played strong defense but struggled to score, only converting one of three opportunities in the red zone. Louisville's kicker, Chris Philpott, also missed two field goals.

This year's game has the potential to be another battle with both teams stacked on the defensive side of the ball. Louisville comes in allowing just 311 yards and 10.5 points per game. North Carolina has held teams to just 298 total yards a game.

“We have an outstanding challenge coming up this weekend,” Coach Charlie said in his Monday press conference (via UofL.com). "North Carolina is a very sold team, even though they lost at the very end this past weekend to Wake Forest.”

“We are excited about the challenge.”

Where: Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY.

When: Saturday, September 15, at 3:30pm. ET

Watch: ABC

Radio: 84 WHAS (In Louisville, KY.) Listen live online HERE.

Betting Line

Louisville -3.5 per VegasInsider.com.



Weather.com says it will be 74 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain.


Players to Watch on North Carolina

North Carolina uses a fast-pace offense that is led by their quarterback, Bryn Renner. Last year, Renner threw for over 3,000 yards for the Tar Heels. He has thrown for 502 yards and four touchdowns so far this season.

Renner is up for the Manning Award and the Davey O'Brien Trophy, which goes to college football's top quarterback at the end of the year.

The Tar Heels have four returning starters on their offensive line protecting their star quarterback. Senior left guard Jonathan Cooper is a preseason All-American candidate.

UNC's defense is led by senior Kevin Reddick. As their middle linebacker, he will be the one to stop Louisville's talented backfield. Reddick had nine tackles against Wake Forest.

Reddick is a preseason All-American candidate. He has started at middle linebacker since he was a freshman.


Things to Note About North Carolina per GoHeels.com

-The Tar Heels are ranked sixth in the country in tackles for loss with 20.

-North Carolina has lost the past four games against ranked opponents.

- Coach Larry Fedora is 0-2 against Louisville in his career.

- North Carolina has won the past three games against Big East teams.


Keys to a Louisville Victory

  • Have success running the football. The Cardinals struggled against Missouri State last Saturday to establish their running game early. Teddy Bridgewater was forced outside the pocket several times in the first half, keeping him from making accurate passes.

  • Score early. Louisville's defense should be able to keep the Tar Heels from getting into the end zone too often. If the Cardinals can score early, they should have no trouble closing the game out.

  • Disrupt UNC's no-huddle offense. There is a very easy way to stop a no huddle, and that is with pressure. Louisville must win the battle up front and force North Carolina's quarterback out of the pocket.


Game Predictions

Louisville needs to continue to prove that their team is for real. I expect Louisville to come out full speed and try to score quickly.

The Cardinals have proven they can run the football. If Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright can find some running room, it could open up Louisville's passing game.

I predict Louisville to win 28-17


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